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Campaigners lambast Daily Mail for ‘implying’ Russia and Albania are safe for LGBT+ people. Spoiler: They’re not

Matilda Davies December 11, 2020
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Daily Mail 'implies' Russia and Albania are safe for LGBT people

Peter Tatchell in Moscow (MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

The Daily Mail has been accused of implying that LGBT+ refugees from Russia and Albania “are undeserving of asylum” in the UK on the grounds of their sexuality.

The newspaper has come under fire over a report on the number of people who were granted asylum in the UK in 2018 to escape homophobic and transphobic persecution.

“Many of the cases set out in the latest data involve people from countries such as Uganda, Pakistan, Malaysia and Nigeria, where gay and lesbian people are often subjected to abuse and attack,” it reads.

“However asylum claims on sexuality grounds were also accepted from nations such as Albania and Russia.”

Politicians and human rights campaigners criticised the article, with Labour MP Chris Bryant telling the website Left Foot Forward: “The Daily Mail seems to have completely forgotten the horrific abuses of LGBT+ people in Chechnya, the banning of gay pride marches in Moscow and the hounding of gay activists in Russia.”

Peter Tatchell added: “This article wrongly implies that refugees from Russia and Albania are undeserving of asylum, even though both countries have very high levels of homophobic discrimination and violence and most LGBTs live in fear.”

Russia is notorious for its mistreatment and persecution of LGBT+ people, most notably in Chechnya, where officials have imprisoned, beaten, tortured and killed queer people in so-called gay purges.

Under Vladimir Putin’s rule, the country has a notorious law which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. This makes any communication about LGBT+ people to children illegal, including in the media and online.

Authorities in Russia declared in October that gay men who have had children by surrogacy will face arrest for “baby trafficking”. In a 2017 survey, 86 per cent of Russians said homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

According to the LGBTI-ERA, an organisation supporting LGBT+ people in the Western Balkans and Turkey, “Albanian LGBTI individuals continue to experience discrimination from individuals as well as institutions”.

“Homophobic and transphobic sentiments remain very high and a culture of heteronormativity and patriarchy is still pervasive,” its website says. “High ranking politicians have often made scandalous remarks against LGBT people.”

Earlier this year, Albania was urged by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) to recognise same-sex partnerships and allow trans people legal gender recognition to protect them from harassment.

Xheni Kharaj, a prominent LGBT+ activist in Albania, told Reuters at the time: “LGBTI couples are not recognised as couples, transgender people due to the lack of law cannot start transition.

“We don’t even have doctors here who are prepared to help them transition.”

PinkNews has contacted the Mail Online for comment.

Related topics: Albania, asylum seekers, Chris Bryant, daily mail, Peter Tatchell, refugees, Russia

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